Thursday, June 1, 2017

Procurement supports UVA's research mission

Reducing administrative burden for UVA researchers is a priority for Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services (PSDS). The PSDS team has established hundreds of new contracts with research and development companies to better meet the needs for specialized goods, services, and equipment, with a continued commitment to good, old-fashioned customer service and going the extra mile.

The UVA Center for Advanced Biomanufacturing needed a rheometer to pursue their work in bioengineering. If you’re wondering what a rheometer is, you’re probably not alone – suffice it to say, it’s a highly specialized piece of equipment available from very few sources.

Not long ago, a purchase like this would require sole source justification, a tedious process. However, thanks to PSDS’ innovative new Research and Development RFP process, Anton Paar, the supplier of the rheometer needed for this work, was set up as a contract vendor. This made the buying process much easier for the researchers and entitled them to the advantages and protections that come with working with a vendor under contract.

If the story ended there, it would be a success, but there’s more: PSDS was also able to help the researchers navigate another complex process.

With a contract relationship established, it made sense for other researchers to know more about the types of specialized equipment the company offered. Dr. Steven Caliari, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science and Center
Anton Paar's mobile lab during its recent visit to UVA.
for Advance Biomanufacturing steering committee member, talked to Anton Paar about bringing their mobile lab to UVA. The company was happy to bring their show on the road, but even as a contract vendor, bringing a mobile laboratory and all its contents to Grounds is not a simple task.

Once again, PSDS stepped in, this time acting as a liaison for UVA researchers and the contracted company. They worked with UVA departments such as facilities, environmental health and safety, and others to secure the necessary permissions for the lab to come on site.

Once the dots were connected, the lab arrived on a sunny day in April.  Chemistry researchers were able to take a quick jaunt to a parking lot nearby and learn more about products that could help with their research (and since Anton Paar is a contract vendor, anyone who visited the lab could potentially purchase from them).

Dr. Caliari saw the benefits of the contract relationship in this situation, commenting, “It’s great to have that comfort level with vendors, because we know that if there’s an issue, if students need to be trained, or if there are questions about a new technique, we have had face time with Anton Paar and we know they will be happy to help.”

He also appreciated the way PSDS jumped in to make the mobile lab visit a reality for busy researchers.

“Everyone who needed to get looped in got looped in and it came together really nicely,” he said.

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